Squeeze Bottles

English Listening Lesson

Listening level: 4
Audio file: 2:21 min
Story length: 311 words


Here is the listening file for this lesson.


A New Bottle

If you buy ketchup, you probably know the bottle is upside down. The lid, that’s the part you open to get ketchup on your food, is on the bottom. It may look simple, but that lid led to some highly successful innovations in consumer products.

The story of the lid begins with a man who saw a problem and found an answer.

In the 1990s, ketchup companies were experiencing a problem. People were buying less ketchup. Why? Because of the bottle.

Ketchup used to be sold in long, thin, glass bottles. Getting ketchup out of the bottle was hard. It moved slowly. Sometimes people hit the bottom of the bottle to get the ketchup out.

Ketchup companies asked one question: how can we get people to eat more? The answer was simple: get ketchup out of the bottle faster.

But, nobody knew how to do that. Well, there was one guy.

In 1991, Paul Brown owned a small business in a small town in America. He made things from plastic. For years, he tried to make a special lid for a new upside down shampoo bottle. Paul tried 111 different designs. None of them worked.

One night, he called a friend for help. The next day, they found the answer. They made a lid that opened a hole when you squeezed the bottle and closed the hole when there was no squeezing.

It worked well. He sold it to companies that made shampoo and baby food. He also sold it to Heinz, the world’s biggest ketchup company. Paul made $13 million dollars.

The ketchup company made a lot of money, too. Its customers loved the squeeze bottle. Ketchup came out fast. People ate more ketchup. In 2002, ketchup sales increased by 25%.

Paul Brown’s story teaches us a lesson. Great ideas do not need to be big. Sometimes, small things can help people in big ways, like a lid for an upside down bottle.

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